Mandrake comes on line

A report from the Kings Cup in Phuket

Wednesday December 4th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
A spry morning breeze sent the King’s Cup fleet sprinting smartly across the start line just off Koh Phi Phi, on Tuesday, spinnakers to the fore. It was the beginning of the KC endurance trial – the Andaman Sea Race. 32 nautical miles for most, 38 for those unlucky enough to make the first gate before the wind waned.

Divided into two groups for the start, the throng of spinnakers against the back drop of Phi Phi Don’s sheer cliff face was, indeed, a rousing sight, thrilling both crews and spectators alike, and reminding all of why the KC returned to the island this year. However, the racers’ enthusiasm soon turned to teeth-clenching determination as the morning’s sprint became sun-baked slog.

As the afternoon slipped away, determination became desperation when much of the fleet became stranded in a Sisyphean struggle between unreliable air and indomitable current, as they attempted to reach the last gate – just a few infuriating metres ahead. “We were lucky,” said Summersalt’s Mark Pescott, who took first at the line and handicap honours in the Ocean Multihull class, and was one of only three multihulls to finish the day’s racing – the loss of wind at lunchtime denying a finish to the two class favourites – Securicor Fine Pitch and, last year’s class champ, Cedar Swan. “We reached the second gate just as the winds died off, and were sent on the shorter course,” said local boat-builder, Pescott. “And we always make good time on a downwind.”

Mandrake, flown in especially for the Cup, following her Hoya Round the Island victory in the Isle of Wight, UK, finally hit her stride, completing the course in just under five hours, six minutes ahead of Yo! and three hours ahead Jelik, the last in Racing to finish the day. But it was not to go all Mandrake’s way, who only managed a third place on handicap, behind both Yo! and Pla Loma.

Despite grumbles from a few discontented yachties, PRO Mark Pryke declared himself satisfied with the way the new race management system is working. "We managed to get results for most of the fleet, in all classes, despite the wind," he said. "Which is all in the best interests of the sailors. “

Special mention goes to the Sunsail craft competing Tuesday, who took all three honours in IRC 3, with seven of the first eight across the line wearing the distinctive blue, white & red logo.

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